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No Child Left Behind Revamp: What's in Store? (page 2)

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February 15, 2010
Updated on Mar 16, 2010

The system is currently more about testing than teaching. “The teachers want to be able to reach,” Weingarten said. Instead, the focus since NCLB has been getting ready for the all-important tests. “They don’t want to spend their lives engaging in test prep,” she said. Middleton agreed: “We want children focused on learning and improvement instead of proving themselves on high-pressure tests.”

Many schools now focus on students closest to passing the tests. “When I talk to teachers, they really hate the narrowing of the curriculum,” said Van Roekel. He said in many schools, the main focus is on the group of kids who fall just below proficiency. The students who are doing very well tend to get ignored. “We have to focus on all of the learning, not just those moving close to proficiency.”

Subjects other than math and English get little attention. Because English and math are the core subjects for the testing that determines if schools are succeeding or failing, education experts say that creates an exaggerated focus on those two subjects. Weingarten said this is another way the curriculum has been narrowed for many teachers – English and math at the expense of everything else. But, as Professor Michael Middleton of the University of New Hampshire noted, “Children can be outstanding in many different ways beyond math and reading test scores.” For example, a school with a strong music program won’t be acknowledged if only math and English test scores are the focus, Middleton said.

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